Neuroscientist V. S. Ramachandran, M.D., Ph.D., is internationally renowned not just for his bold insights about the human brain but also for the stunning simplicity of the experiments he devises to solve neurology cases that have baffled his peers (using such tools as Q-Tips, glasses of water, and mirrors).Phantoms in the Brain is a fascinating journey into the deep architecture of the mind. In the bestselling tradition of Oliver Sacks, Dr. Ramachandran and his co-author, noted New York Times science writer Sandra Blakeslee, introduce us to a range of patients suffering from strange neurological afflictions, explain how Dr. Ramachandran's evaluations reveal what actually occurs in the brain, and explore what these findings reveal about our dreams, laughter, memory, depression, body image, and language -- in short, the very things that make us human.These mesmerizing cases illuminate elusive aspects of the brain: why we think the way we do, how we reason, how we deceive ourselves, and perhaps even why we are so clever at philosophy, music, and art. Some examples: -- A blind woman unerringly reaches out to grasp a pen -- and challenges us to find the true seat of vision.-- A woman who believes that her paralyzed arm is lifting a tray of drinks offers a look at the neurology of delusion -- and a unique opportunity to test Freud's theories of denial.-- A young man who insists that his parents are impostors reveals how the brain weaves meaning from the millions of incidents that compose a life.-- A woman who hallucinates cartoon characters suffers from a disorder that may have spawned James Thurber's famed flights of visual fancy -- and illustrates how in a sense we are all hallucinating, all the time.These are stories of inspired medical detective work that push the boundaries of medicine's last great frontier -- human mind -- and bring us face-to-face with new and provocative ideas about the "big questions" of the self.
Issue: 2011 12 30
Includes bibliographical references (p. 299-313) and index